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ACCIDENTS, INJURIES AND FATALITIES
ROAD TRAFFIC CRASHES
Crashes involving fatalities
The number of road traffic crashes involving deaths in 2004 (1,458) rose by 13 crashes compared with 2003 (table 22.17). Between 2003 and 2004 fatal crashes in Tasmania rose by 33%, fell by 23% in the Northern Territory, and remained the same for the Australian Capital Territory. All other states recorded either relatively small decreases or increases.
The number of people killed was lower in 2004 (1,596) compared with 2003, declining by 2%. The number of people killed in the Northern Territory fell from 52 to 35, a fall of 33%. However, the number of people killed in Tasmania rose from 41 in 2003 to 58 in 2004, an increase of 41%.
Road traffic fatalities
The number of deaths from road traffic crashes per 100,000 persons fell from 8.2 in 2003 to 7.9 in 2004, continuing the decline since 1970, when the rate was 30.4. Road deaths per 100,000 persons in the Northern Territory in 2004 (17.5) was significantly higher than the national rate (table 22.18). The Australian Capital Territory had the lowest rate of road deaths (3.1 per 100,000 persons) in 2004. The Northern Territory recorded the greatest drop in road deaths per 100,000 persons, from 26.2 in 2003 to 17.5 in 2004 (a fall of 33%), while Tasmania recorded an increase in road deaths per 100,000 persons of almost 40%, from 8.6 in 2003 to 12.0 in 2004.
The Northern Territory had the highest number of fatalities per 10,000 registered vehicles (3.3) in 2004, although this was a fall of 34% compared with 2003 (5.0). Fatalities per 10,000 registered vehicles rose in Tasmania by 42% between 2003 and 2004.
Road fatalities and fatality rates - 1926 to 2004
Australian road fatalities in the period 1926 to 2004 are shown in graph 22.19. Road fatalities per 10,000 registered vehicles and 100,000 persons for the same period are shown in graph 22.20.
Until 1970, each year other than during the Depression and World War II had seen a steady growth in motor vehicle ownership and a corresponding increase in road deaths. By 1970 the number of vehicles had increased twelve-fold over the number in 1926 and the road toll had increased about four times to reach its highest mark of 3,798 deaths. The number of fatalities per 100,000 people also peaked in 1970 at 30.4. The road toll in 2004 of 1,596 was less than half the 1970 figure, while the number of fatalities per 100,000 people (7.9) for 2004 was less than a third of that of 1970. Also, while there were 8.0 road fatalities per 10,000 registered vehicles in 1970, this rate has decreased to 1.2 in 2004.
Characteristics of fatal crashes
Some characteristics of fatal crashes for 1999 and 2004 are shown in table 22.21.
In both 1999 and 2004 the majority of fatal crashes occurred on roads where the posted speed limit was 100 km/h and above (45%), followed by roads with a speed limit of up to 60 km/h (33%). A further 22% of fatal crashes occurred on roads with speed zones of between 65 km/h and 95 km/h.
In 1999 the highest proportion of fatal crashes was multiple vehicle crashes (43%), while in 2004 the highest proportion of such crashes was single vehicle crashes (44%). Pedestrian crashes accounted for 19% of crash types in 1999 and 15% in 2004.
The highest number of fatal crashes occurred during the day time in both 1999 and 2004.
Serious injury due to road crashes
In 2002 there were 22,248 people seriously injured in road crashes (table 22.22), a slight decrease compared with 2001. The highest number of people seriously injured were occupants of cars (51%), followed by motorcyclists (20%), bicyclists (11%) and pedestrians (11%).
There were a higher number of males than females with serious injuries due to road crashes in 2002 (nearly twice the number of males to females). This was also the case for all the modes of transport, except buses, where the number of females with serious injuries was higher (153 females compared with 67 males). The number of males with serious injuries was much greater than females for heavy vehicle transport (96%), motorcycles (92%), bicycles and utility trucks and vans (82%), pedestrians (62%) and other vehicles (65%).
The number of males with serious injuries involving motorcycle road crashes was almost twelve times that of females in 2002 (4,167 versus 356). There were also four and a half times the number of males with serious injuries involving bicycle road crashes compared with females (2,094 versus 463). Conversely, there were just over two and a quarter times the number of females seriously injured in road crashes involving buses compared with males in 2002 (153 versus 67).
International comparisons of road traffic deaths
Australian road traffic deaths are compared with those for other selected OECD nations in table 22.23. Australia's rate of 8.7 road deaths per 100,000 persons in 2002 is considerably lower than the rates of Portugal (16.1), Poland (15.2), the Republic of (South) Korea (14.9), the United States of America (14.8), Spain (13.2), and France (12.9). Australia's rate is, however, markedly higher than Sweden and the United Kingdom (6.0).
Australia's rate of road deaths per 10,000 registered vehicles (1.3) was below the OECD median (1.8). For the countries listed, the Republic of (South) Korea has the highest death rate per 10,000 registered vehicles (4.9) deaths.
The number of fatalities per 100 million vehicle kilometres travelled in Australia in 2002 (0.9) was less than the OECD median (1.1).
RAIL AND WATER TRANSPORT ACCIDENTS
There were 51 deaths associated with water transport accidents in 2003, an increase of two deaths compared with 2002 (table 22.16). There were nine rail transport accident-related deaths recorded in 2003, compared with five deaths in the preceding year.
Since 1991 the number of aircraft accidents has declined by 49%, from 265 in 1991 to 135 in 2004 (graph 22.24). The number of fatal accidents fell from 21 to 10 (52%) over the same period. In 2004 there were 21 fatalities involving registered civil aircrafts, or just under half the fatalities that occurred in 1991, and a fall of 38% compared with 2003. In 2004 there were 135 accidents of which 10 were fatal, compared with 134 accidents of which 14 were fatal in 2003.